Sunday 18 February 2018

GAA must stand firm with soccer on technology

Joe Sheridan's controversial goal for Meath in the Leinster final is superbly captured in the 2010 edition of Sportsfile's 'A Season of Sundays'.
Joe Sheridan's controversial goal for Meath in the Leinster final is superbly captured in the 2010 edition of Sportsfile's 'A Season of Sundays'.
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

OFFICIALLY at least, the introduction of goal-line technology is still on the GAA's 'things to explore' list as Croke Park reacts to increased pressure to minimise the impact of wrong refereeing/umpiring calls.

More presentations are to be made to the GAA by technology experts as they attempt to prove that their equipment is the answer to a problem that produced some major controversies this year.

Meath's winning goal against Louth in the Leinster football final was joined down Argument Street a few weeks later when TV re-runs clearly showed that Benny Coulter's goal in the Down-Kildare All-Ireland football semi-final should have been disallowed for a 'small square' infringement.

Now, while it's always worth exploring new ideas, I'm surprised that Croke Park are still toying with a concept that has as much chance of being implemented as I have of being the next GAA president.

If a global sport like soccer -- where goal-line technology is even more crucial than in Gaelic games -- still harbours enough doubts about its practicality, then it's stretching common sense to breaking point to suggest that it could be applied neatly and efficiently in Gaelic football and hurling.

Besides, there's no need for it. Allowing Joe Sheridan's goal to stand in the Leinster final had nothing to do with the absence of goal-line technology but rather with a wrong call on an incident where three officials -- a referee and two umpires -- were almost within touching distance of the action. The same applied to Coulter's goal against Kildare.


Tipperary put a motion to Congress last April proposing the appointment of a video official whose view could be sought by the referee if he had doubts over any aspect of play. Presumably that was in direct response to Tipperary's annoyance over the awarding of a penalty to Kilkenny in the 2009 All-Ireland final despite protests that the foul -- if there was one -- had occurred outside the square.

Allowing a referee to halt play at any time to allow another official to check the video would wreck the game while also putting referees in an impossible situation.

Players and managers would apply fierce pressure for a recheck every time a decision went against them, leading to far more friction than currently exists.

Goal-line technology is a different proposition, especially if it helped in settling controversial calls involving points and wides. That's certainly a problem area, but one suspects that the answer rests in physical, rather than technical, means.

Work is advancing on a secondary netting system that would clearly prove whether the ball had gone inside or outside the post and if it eventually proves to be practical at all major grounds, then its merits are obvious.

As for technology, it would probably cause more problems than it solved. For a start, it could never be definitive in deciding whether a player was in the square before the ball, nor could it be any more than a guide as to whether a foul had been committed. As for deciding whether the ball had crossed the goal line, surely an umpire at either post is enough to settle that one.

Rugby's use of a video referee is repeatedly thrown out as an example of how technology works positively. However, it's confined to the specific issue of whether the ball was grounded properly over the try line and has no function in any other facet of play. Technology is also used in tennis, but its focus is quite narrow.

Those who are advocating its use in GAA want it to cover a number of areas such as whether the ball had crossed the goal line, whether it was inside or outside the post, whether a foul was inside or outside the square and whether or not an attacking player was in the small square before the ball arrived.

It's too broad a remit and would lead to far too many stoppages. Besides, how reliable would the technology be? 'Hawkeye' may be at home in the comfortable atmosphere of Wimbledon, Flushing Meadows or Roland Garros but perhaps much less so in Pearse Stadium, Salthill, with a strong wind whipping in from the sea, or Pairc Ui Chaoimh, with dark clouds blowing up from the Lee.

Ultimately, though, this is an area where the GAA should heed the soccer example. Soccer has refused to join the technology trail because of fears it would cause more problems than it solved.

From a GAA perspective, money spent on introducing costly technology would be better invested in improving refereeing and umpiring standards. By all means have some fun with the 'techies' as they show off their gadgets, but don't waste too much time on it. And definitely don't waste any money on it.

Kilkenny will miss the honesty of hero lyng

OTHER than hurling, Derek Lyng lists soccer, music and reading as his main hobbies; now that he has dropped out of the inter-county scene, he will have more time for the latter three while also continuing to hurl with his club, Emeralds, Urlingford.

Injuries curtailed Lyng in recent seasons but he will still be a big loss to Kilkenny. Honesty is very much the theme of the dressing-room ethic created by Brian Cody and, in that regard, nobody epitomised it more than Lyng.

He was one of the new brigade introduced after Galway beat Kilkenny in the 2001 All-Ireland semi-final and went on to make a huge contribution to the county's greatest era.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport